While NICU babies have to spend the first several weeks of their lives away from home, newborns at an Atlanta hospital now have the chance to fall asleep to their moms’ lullabies and bedtime stories.
Music therapists and volunteers with Little Lullabies, a new program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, record moms singing or reading, professionally produce each track and play it for their newborns during bath time or bedtime.
"One of the hardest parts about having a baby in the NICU is that you have to go home and you have to leave your baby," said Lindy Agan, whose newborn daughter Caroline is staying in the NICU. "Things like this music program are kind of silver linings to the cloud of having a baby in the NICU for so long."
With the help of the hospital, Agan recorded a personalized version of "You Are My Sunshine," with the word "Caroline" replacing "sunshine," for her daughter.
"There are times you’re worried your baby is missing you, or that she’s just not getting enough of that parent interaction or bonding," Agan explained. "Having a CD with lullabies that I sang for her was really comforting just kind of made me feel like I was with her even when I couldn't be at the hospital."
For Amber Gharapetian, it was important that her daughter Luna Snow would fall asleep to the same bedtime stories being read to her as her older siblings do.
"This is a book I read to my other children, it’s a book we have at home," Gharapetian explained. “It was fun knowing that she can hear the same story I read to the other kids before they go to bed."
Music therapist Hannah Bush said that in addition to helping the babies bond with their parents when their moms and dads aren’t at the hospital, she hopes the recorded lullabies and bedtime stories will give them additional comfort in a tough environment.
"It’s really helpful for infants to be playing those voices. It’s been shown that it decreases cortisol level, which is our stress hormone, which is calming for them," Bush said. "It can help them when they’re crying to hear mom’s voice, which is really great when you’re in a hospital environment with a lot of beeps and sounds."